Quick Hit Aricka Flowers Tuesday April 29th, 2014, 7:57pm

Illinois Senate Adjourns Leaving Fair Tax Act Untouched, Kills Term Limit Amendment

The Illinois Senate has adjourned for the day, leaving the Fair Tax Act untouched. Meanwhile, the GOP-backed amendment to impose term limits on state lawmakers died in the chamber Tuesday.

Despite a large rally by Illinoisans calling for a chance to vote on the Fair Tax Act and attempts by sponsor State Sen. Don Harmon (D-Oak Park) to drum up support in the House, the amendment was not called up for a vote in the Senate. The amendment, which would have installed a progressive income tax in the state, had to pass through the Senate today in order to even potentially meet the deadline to make it onto the November ballot.

“I want to make sure there is a path to victory in the House before advancing it out of the Senate,” Harmon said, according to the State Journal-Register. “There are Republicans who can, should and will vote for this amendment if given the opportunity. I have no doubt we will need a bipartisan roll call in the House, but I am confident we can achieve that.”

“There’s no point in calling it in the Senate for some sort of symbolic vote,” he added.

Advocates for a progressive tax in the state are voicing displeasure with today's outcome, as seen in this statement by A Better Illinois campaign director Kristen Crowell:

While we are certainly disappointed with today's results, the fight for a Fair Tax – which enjoys the support of 77% of Illinois voters – is far from over.  Our statewide grassroots campaign, including more than 250,000 petition signatures and the support of more than 750 small businesses, faith leaders, labor and education groups, and civic and community organizations from every corner of the state brought us closer to implementing a Fair Tax in Illinois than ever before.

We are confident the days of forced poor choices between unfair, regressive taxation that disproportionately burdens the poor and middle class and continued draconian cuts to the vital investments Illinoisans expect and depend upon are numbered.  The Fair Tax will continue to be an issue in the upcoming elections and in front of lawmakers again as soon as this year’s Veto Session.

Today is a sad day for democracy.  This setback – while temporary – was clearly influenced by a well-financed, out-of-state smear campaign in which nearly $1 million was funneled into Illinois to mislead and distort the Fair Tax to both lawmakers and the public.  Our research and our conversations with both voters and lawmakers make us supremely confident that Illinois citizens will ultimately end this unfair, antiquated tax system as the truth about a Fair Tax continues to become evident.  

Meanwhile, conservatives are "celebrating" the lack of a vote on the progressive tax amendment, as seen in this press release by Americans for Prosperity:

In a second victory for working families and businesses in as many months, the proposal to amend the Illinois Constitution and allow for a progressive income tax is dead after Democratic leaders failed to muster enough support to call the legislation for a vote. AFP-Illinois led the grassroots charge against the tax by airing three cable TV and online ads, generating over 1,800 constituent calls to priority legislators’ offices, and mobilizing its activists throughout the state at fifteen town hall meetings and other grassroots events.

This stealth income tax increase was championed by Governor Quinn and Springfield’s Democratic leaders as yet another way to squeeze more cash out of Illinois taxpayers. With the backing of more than 60,000 Illinois grassroots activists, Americans for Prosperity-Illinois joined with legislators and partner organizations in an effort to show legislators the deep opposition to the proposed progressive income tax.  

'AFP-Illinois gave voice to thousands of Illinois residents who deeply distrust the leadership in Springfield and know that changing our state’s constitution to allow for a progressive tax would open the door to continued tax increases in the future,'  said AFP-Illinois State Director David From.

Governor Quinn and Speaker Madigan’s next goal is to make permanent the state’s temporary tax increase, a whopping 67 percent tax increase passed in 2011 that is the largest tax increase in Illinois history. Three years later Illinois has the worst credit rating in the nation, with billions of unpaid bills, a seriously underfunded pension liability, and the third highest unemployment rate in the country. After defeat of 'millionaire tax' and the progressive income tax, AFP-Illinois shifts full attention to blocking a permanent income tax hike.

'Just three years ago Illinois taxpayers were promised that the income tax increase was temporary, and now Governor Quinn has made making this temporary hike permanent the cornerstone of his fiscal policy,' continued From. 'The defeat of the millionaire tax and the progressive income tax shows that Illinois voters are fed up with the false promises of our politicians; AFP-Illinois and our thousands of Illinois supports can now shift our full attention to defeating Governor Quinn’s permanent income tax increase.'

The Republican-led push to impose term limits on state lawmakers, an idea that is supported by both GOP gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner as well as Gov. Pat Quinn, failed to pass through a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday. But the issue could still get on the November ballot if Rauner's petiton effort to limit state lawmakers to eight years in office and adjust the number of legislators in the general assembly garners enough support. He is expected to turn in the petition signatures on Wednesday.

Another potential amendment to hit November ballots looks to restructure the way Illinois political maps are drawn. Signatures for that effort are expected to be turned in Thursday. Both Rauner's effort and the amendment to restructure state political maps are expected to see a court challenge.

Two other amendments will definitely appear on the ballot, however. One amendment looks to prevent voter suppression, while the other will strengthen the victims' rights amendment.


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